Tuesday, December 5, 2023

From Naseeruddin Shah’s tutelage to Sahil Vaid crafting his own legacy

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Actor Sahil Vaid, who has created a niche for himself, gets candid with The Pioneer about his craft, working with Raftaar, making different roles as his opportunity, and more.

Tejal Sinha

Mastering his skills one at a time, Sahil Vaid has made a mark in the industry with his in a class of its own spark into any project. Well, there’s really something about him that makes him a one-of-a-kind actor.

But as we rang a call to him for a fun chat, a reason we noticed for the actor today that he is, surely credits—family. Having grown up in a family of businessmen and soldiers, Sahil was always surrounded by people who’ve been an inspiration to not just him, but also many. So of course, there was huge pressure, but his dad kept pushing him to be the best and get him out of his comfort zone. Basically, he says, “I was happy with doing theatres in Delhi, but my dad sent me to a film school, which was expensive for us. He always told me getting out of my comfort zone is going to be difficult, but once it’s done you’re going to be your own man. I’m glad he pushed me out of the house and pulled me out of the theater in Delhi. I still do continue theatre here but I now do it in a different way. Life for me has somewhat changed since 2007.”

Now cut down the lane, he recently added another remarkable performance in his repertoire with his character in Bajao. And now for him, he says things have been so effortless. Why not? It wouldn’t be wrong to say that he is a product of Dharma Productions, and Yash Raj Films. He even recalls how after watching the series, people have called him down saying how his character in Bajao is a ‘Stupido version’ of Poplu (Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania). From imagining himself as someone who would do theatre, and Anurag Kashyap spotting him for a part in Gangs of Wasseypur, today he’s glad Anurag Kashyap, who knows of him, really hopes to work with him someday!

Quite a journey he’s had! But did you know, while a lot of preps go behind to get into the skin of the character, the Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania on the other hand, had to unprepare a lot. Because, “Before Bajao, I was shooting with Nagesh Kukunoor, and working with him is not easy. He is fun but a task-master. He makes you go through the basics of preparation. When I was shooting for the, I would call it a ‘Nagesh Kukunoor show’, there I’m this very realistic person who is a police officer and the reason he cast me in the show was that I looked exactly like him. He was a Punjabi guy who could speak Tamil. Life became very easy for me on set. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would be cast by someone who is such serious about his craft. Coming from there on to Bajao was like, I had to let go of a lot of stuff, especially when you’re doing things to entertain people. There they are shooting a very documentary style of filmmaking, very real, and having conversations that are very intelligent. On the contrary, here I am playing Kuki the strongest character who comes up with some great observations.”

The Jio Cinema series had also marked the well-loved rapper Raftaar’s acting debut and Sahil was all praised for his co-star. Working with Raftaar, he says was a ‘Charm’. “One has this preconceived notion that rappers might be this rude person. Not at all! Raftaar is like a brother now. I didn’t feel like I was working with a rapper but with an actor. Although he claims in all the interviews that we are his seniors but to be very honest with you, that man is very sorted in life. He knows what he wants, he knows how to do it. I remember meeting his dog in Delhi when we were shooting in Connaught Place, my god the time we spent. Lovely guy lovely bunch of friends he has and I’m glad now I’m a part of his friends’ gang. We look up to him, he looks up to us.”

Having built a repertoire of films over the years, something that we looked up to was the screen space that this adroit artist has, seems like that doesn’t really affect him much. Is it true, we ask, and he says, “ I have been acting for 27 years now. But I can tell you with all honesty that breaking into this industry is not a walk in the park. I am okay with doing all kinds of roles, if you go back and look at the repertoire, none of my roles match with others. What I am trying to do and what my strategy tries to speak is to do as many different kinds of roles and hope somebody spots me and says he’s an amazing actor, we want to experiment with him.” True that, it was the casting director Shanoo Sharma, who saw him in Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania and cast him in Bank Chor. Though the film didn’t work, “Whoever watches it tells me that we did not expect this from you. An actor is only good at the opportunities he gets. I’m trying my best to grab opportunities so I can show people what I have prepared in these 27 years. I have played several roles on stage. What I’m trying to do with the different kinds of roles is create a sense of what my teacher Naseeruddin Shah had done; play different kinds of roles and make a place for himself. My current co-actor Manoj Bajpayee also did something similar. There were friends of mine who were far better actors than me but they were nowhere there because they refrained from doing roles as I did in Humpty or with less screen time. I would also do the project if I just had one scene to do there is this Sriram Raghavan film coming in December you’ll understand what point I’m trying to make and how much I love working.”

He even recalls a mishap situation where he was misquoted for regretting doing Shershaah. “So this reporter wanted to take my interview and I was like I hardly have a role in it. Later on, the WhatsApp group that I was in with the team was agitated saying ‘What did I even say!’ I had never said that I regretted doing Shershah, and I even told the same to Karan Johar at the success party. It was my third Dharma film,” he recalled adding what the whole chaos was about saying, “I met the director right before the shooting and said sir if you can cast me in the part where I get to wear the uniform. Basically, let me share with you, that I wanted to play Shiv Pandit’s role since I knew about the soldier and had been following the Kargil war like a hawk. I really wanted to play a soldier. But the director had decided in his head that he wanted me to play Sunny. He was like ‘You’re surely going to play a soldier in your life, and I don’t have anybody to play Sahil. I was disappointed but that was not with the film or story. I was fine with it. I never regret doing anything. I worked on a film Happi when I was in film school, which we shot in 2008, but it was released in 2019 in Zee 5. If I had that in me I would have given up long back.”

On the work front, he has completed shooting for Silence 2, and he says, “It’s a different story this time, but the same team solving the case. Show by Nagesh Kukunoor’s Trail of Assassin, and I hope there might also be a part in Shubhash Ghai’s next film, soon to be announced.”

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